Some people have this idea that Jim Irsay apparently isn’t a good owner and that the Colts would be better off without him, but that opinion really doesn’t seem to be shared by those who have worked with him.
The latest example of that was punter Pat McAfee, who was absolutely effusive in his praise for Irsay upon announcing his retirement last week. New general manager Chris Ballard seems to share those sentiments, too.
Appearing on 1070 the Fan with JMV yesterday, Ballard was asked what he liked about Irsay, his new boss.
“He loves football,” Ballard said. “He loves the history of football. And he loves the Indianapolis Colts. He is passionate about winning, and doing it the right way. And I was all in with that. I mean, I was all in. He had me quickly when he started talking about the Colts.”
You’ll hear that a lot: there are things you can disagree with Irsay on or things you can criticize him about, but you can’t deny that he cares more about his team than most owners. He’s been around the Colts for pretty much his whole life, and he knows football very well compared to other owners. His vision for the Colts has always been to win and to win the right way, and it sounds like that’s what sold Ballard on the team (though I’m sure Andrew Luck helped quite a bit).
Irsay, of course, showered quite a bit of praise on Ballard as well. In the GM’s introductory press conference, Irsay called him the best GM candidate of the 21st century.
“I was thinking about this and I think I can say it with some expertise and some wisdom,” Irsay said, “is that I really feel, to me, Chris is the best candidate for general manager that's come about so far in the 21st century. I mean, that's how impressed we were with him. His energy, his experience, his vision, I know that he's going to get with Coach Pagano and the Colts are a much better football team today.”
Irsay might not get everything right - like retaining Chuck Pagano, for instance - but one thing you can’t accuse him of is not caring about his team. It seems that passion was evident to Chris Ballard right away, and that’s always a good thing for a GM candidate. It means that the owner will be willing to do whatever is necessary to put the best team on the field that he can, so Ballard can have confidence that Irsay will try to help him however he can in adding talent and isn’t afraid to spend to get it. For a new GM, that’s always encouraging.